Calgary

Calgary cold snap prompts warning to avoid frostbite

With the city expected to be in the deep freeze for well into next week, Calgary EMS is reminding people to take some basic cold-weather safety precautions.

Overnight temperatures could go as low as –27 C this week

It's important to cover up as much skin as possible with a wind chill of -26 C in the forecast for Monday afternoon, an EMS spokesman says. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

With the city expected to be in the deep freeze for well into next week, Calgary EMS is reminding people to take some basic cold-weather safety precautions.

Calgary was expected to reach just –14 C on Monday, or –26 C with the wind chill, and then dip to –22 C overnight.

The forecast for the rest of the week calls for highs hovering around –20 C and overnights as low as –27 C.

EMS spokesman Adam Loria says it's important for anyone working outside in this weather to dress appropriately, take period warm-up breaks and drink lots of water to help the body regulate its temperature.

People working outdoors should take periodic breaks to warm up indoors and drink lots of water to help their bodies regulate temperature, a medical expert says. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

"Especially with that wind chill, you need to cover up as much skin as possible," he said. "That skin and the tissue underneath can freeze within a number of minutes, and it can do some nerve damage and some tissue damage."

According to Environment Canada, the normal high for Dec. 5 in Calgary is –1 C and the normal low is –13 C.

'Winter for those who like winter'

David Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment Canada, said this week's temperatures will be colder than anything we saw over the past two years, and could linger for up to two weeks. 

While the mild winters of 2014 and 2015 could credit U.S. air with the warmth, the Americans also get the blame for this cold snap. 

"This is still American air, but it's coming from Alaska with some help from Siberian air," he said. 

Phillips doesn't think this will be a particularly tough winter, despite the cooler long-term forecast. It will be a winter "for those who like winter," he said. 

When it comes to snow, Phillips said it's tough to predict.

'In our models we have the four possibilities," he said. "We can say there's going to be more snow than normal, we see less snow, or we see something closer to normal. There's a fourth category, and it's true, I'm not making this up, it says we don't know. And really, it's that, there's an equal chance of all of those occurring."

Snowy, slippery streets 

A winter storm dropped six centimetres of snow in Calgary over the weekend, leading to a lot of collisions on city roads.

Between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Sunday, there were 170 crashes in the city — 19 of which involved injuries.

From 6 p.m. Sunday to 3 a.m. Monday, police said there were 23 collisions, including six that resulted in injuries. 

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